We often talk about “fall allergies in dogs”, but I guess I never thought about just how bad allergies are in the Spring too. Poor Rex, unfortunately, has allergies all year round, but with all the changes going on in our environment during this time of year, he’s just miserable! All the beautiful things we love about spring, blossoming trees, pretty flower blooms, the rebirth of green grass…end up wreaking havoc on our histamine receptors, both human and canine.
Rex has been scratching around his face, licking at his feet, and pawing at his ears. The scratching is particularly worrisome. We took him to the vet in hopes of relieving his itching. She recommended an antihistamine to get him through the season. It definitely helps, but if you really want to help your dog with Spring allergies, you’re going to have to put some work into it.
How to Get Rid of Dog Allergies this Spring
Keep a Consistent Bathing Routine
I know, doggie bath time at home is not always pleasant. Either he hates it, or he’s hard to maneuver because of his size. Bathing is one of the best things you can do for him during an outbreak of spring allergies. Bathe him often. Look for a gentle, non-drying shampoo that can be used as often as needed. Because some high detergent shampoos can be very drying, you can actually make his itching worse by drying him out. Find a shampoo that effectively clears the allergens that have attached to the skin while keeping it moist. You might want to look for a “soap free” formula. Some helpful ingredients in the shampoo may include oatmeal, aloe vera, essential oils, fatty acids, and conditioners. Those are generally very gentle on his skin, however, your pet could negatively react to certain ingredients (i.e., some dogs reportedly react to aloe vera) making the allergy response even worse.
Bring your dog to Holiday Barn Pet Resorts for bathing more often during this season. You can re-book for his next bath and save $5.00 each visit. We have a fabulous spa treatment called Itchy Scratchy Relief. It’s a soothing shampoo with oatmeal and jojoba oil, followed by deep-penetrating moisturizing conditioner. If your pup could talk, he would thank you.
Use Wipes to Remove Allergens After They’ve Been Outside
We found some way-cool wipes at the pet supply store to wipe Rex down when he comes in from outside. These types of wipes are convenient to use and many contain anti-itch formulations. Baby wipes are nice too. If your dog is sensitive to fragrances and ingredients like aloe vera, baby wipes might not work for him. You may find these kinds of commercial wipes to be very soothing for your dog, but they’re not really necessary. What you are specifically trying to do is remove the allergens from his fur and that can be just as easily done with a damp washcloth.
Don’t Neglect the Paws
Your little “low-rider” has to walk right through pollen, weeds, grass, all that “itch-causing” stuff. When his little paw steps down, all that yuck pushes up into the little crevices in his paws. Make sure you clean [with your damp washcloth or wipes] up in those crevices. I know… he’ll squirm and carry on while you’re doing it, but it will help keep his feet from itching so much. We actually have a little foot bath that we dip Rex’s paws in when he comes inside. I highly recommend it. We soak his paws in a solution containing clean, warm water and a little povidone iodine solution (It kind of looks like brewed tea). Iodine is generally used to clean wounds and disinfect skin before surgeries. Added to his foot bath, it helps to thoroughly remove bacteria and allergens from his paws. You don’t have to rinse the iodine off. It’s safe, nontoxic and won’t hurt your dog if he is to lick it.
Clean the Crevices in their Ears
The ears are another little crevice on your dog’s body that will accumulate pollens and allergens, especially if your dog has prick ears. Prick ears just stand up and invite anything and everything to come live there! But, long ears are damp breeding grounds for all kinds of yucky stuff, so don’t think just because your dog’s ears are covered you’re in the clear! Wipe the inside surface of the ear when your pup comes in from outside. Frequent and thorough cleaning of the ears with a gentle ear cleaning solution will also help your pup to be more comfortable during the Spring.
Oh, and, don’t forget to very gently clean the crevices around your dog’s “private parts” too.
Watch for Secondary Infections
When your dog is scratching for days on end, it’s very easy for him to develop a secondary bacterial infection. What happens is that he breaks the skin by aggressively scratching. That open lesion leads to an infection. To recognize a secondary bacterial infection, your dog’s skin will look inflamed and he may have even developed scabs. He appears desperate in trying to get relief by scratching, licking, dragging his belly across the floor, etc. A bacterial infection often manifests itself in the ears. Your dog may be shaking his head, or occasionally tilting his head to one side. The ears will be inflamed and may have a brown, waxy discharge. And he will probably have a pungent “doggie smell”. If a secondary infection occurs, another visit to the vet is necessary, as soon as possible. The poor little guy is miserable and definitely needs an antibiotic to destroy the growth of bacteria.
Guess what else happens during this wonderful time of the year? The weather gets warmer, a little humidity pops up, and here come the fleas! Generally, the temperature needs to be at least 70 degrees for fleas and ticks to flourish, but we can have pretty warm spring weather in our region. So your dog’s itching may not be related to allergies, it may be a flea issue. Check him carefully. Because of the varying temperatures in our fine state, it’s best to keep your dog on flea preventative all year round.
But that’s a subject for another blog…
Happy Spring, everyone!